It is anticipated that approximately 41,520 deaths in the United States will be attributed to leukemia and lymphoma in 2007.What exactly are leukemia and lymphoma? The answer is more complex than a simple definition can provide.
According to leukemia-lymphpma.org, leukemia is the general name for four different types of blood cancers. The types are acute and chronic myelogenis leukemia and acute and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
The difference between acute and chronic leukemias is the presence of blast cells, which are immature blood-forming cells. Acute leukemias have them; however, chronic leukemias do not.
The ways that individuals with leukemia are affected and treated and the rate at which the disease progresses, are different with each type of leukemia. An estimated 44,240 new cases of leukemia will be diagnosed in 2007.
Rob Borradaile, a fourth-year computer science major, remembers when his best friend Dave was diagnosed with leukemia in the summer of 2005.
“I was crying, and I just kept getting reassured that he would be okay,” Borradaile said. “In the back of your mind, there is that little bit of doubt, but you have to remain optimistic because you don’t want to give up hope.”
Dave passed away in April of 2006 at the age of 19, not even a year after he was diagnosed. He went through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
“He was weak, lost all his hair, and was really tired,” Borradaile said.
Dave was supposed to start his college career at Temple University as a chemistry major.
“I remember him in the hospital with his text books,” Borradaile said.
Signs and symptoms of leukemia differ based on the type. Some of the symptoms for acute leukemias include tiredness or no energy, slow healing of cuts, excess bleeding, pinhead-size red dots under the skin and low white cell counts.
People with either of the chronic leukemias may not have any symptoms. Some only learn that they have it after they get a blood test done at a regular check up.
Lymphoma is a general term for a group of cancers that originate in the lymphatic system. The lymphomas are divided into two major categories, Hodgkin lymphoma, also known as Hodgkin’s disease, and all other lymphomas, called non-Hodgkin lymphomas which are much more common.
About 71,380 people living in the United States will be diagnosed with lymphoma in 2007. This figure includes approximately 8,190 new cases of Hodgkin lymphoma.
The annual incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma has almost doubled over the last 55 years. The reasons for this increase are not certain.
As Hodgkin lymphoma progresses, it compromises a person’s ability to fight infection. Signs and symptoms of lymphoma include painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin, persistent fatigue, recurrent high fever, sweating at night, troublesome itching and weight loss.
Stephanie Dunn, a third-year communications major, had a scare last year when she felt a small lump underneath of her jaw.
“I didn’t think it was too serious but I called my mom to ask her what she thought it could be,” Dunn said.
Her mother reminded Dunn that her uncle has passed away from Hodgkin’s Disease.
“That’s when I got nervous,” Dunn said.
Luckily, Dunn’s doctor said there was nothing abnormal or serious about her lump.
“It sort of made me feel like I had overreacted but then I realized it was better for me to be safe than sorry,” Dunn said.
The How To Help page of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Web site states that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society invests $61 million annually to research, patients and awareness of the diseases. Help make a difference today.
Lindsay Banecker is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at LB596846@wcupa.edu.